EH&S Compliance: Is Your Back to School Checklist Complete?
Is your university ready in terms of safety and compliance for students to come back from summer break? Your EH&S program should be ready to help you minimize liability, keep people safe, reduce your cost of managing waste, stay compliant, and protect your school's reputation and brand. That's a lot to think about with school right around the corner.
Before students begin unpacking and your labs are once again filled with people, there are a few things you need to do to assure your university is ready, safe, and compliant.
1. Train Employees
OSHA records researchers in academic labs as being eleven times more likely to get hurt than their industrial lab counterparts. It's important that employees go through a refresher course on lab safety, procedures, and emergency plans to avoid injuries.
Some trainings prior to the school year that are necessary include lab awareness training for teaching assistants and RCRA training for main accumulation area (MAA) inspectors. Also, if you haven't done so already, now is the time to set up a training strategy for the rest of the year. To keep training fresh in the minds of your employees, set up automatic update emails and refresher courses throughout the school year.
2. Assess Inventory and Clean Out Labs
Assessing inventory and cleaning out labs are important steps to take to ensure you don't have any chemicals that expired over the summer and have an accurate inventory to start the year. This will not only assure safety and compliance, but it will also give you a better idea of what you need to buy to have a complete stock of chemicals.
Taking these steps while students are off campus and there aren't as many employees on the grounds will allow you the time to properly and safely dispose of expired hazardous chemicals and decontaminate your labs. It's recommended that all surfaces, systems, piping, ventilation, and ducts that came in contact with hazardous material be cleaned by a certified professional before the new semester starts.
3. Audit for Safety and Compliance
The safety of your students is of the utmost importance. Make sure everything is optimized for safety and compliance with a full site audit. By auditing for compliance prior to the start of the school year, you will also know that your site is operating completely in accordance with all federal, state, and local regulations.
4. Inspect Safety Equipment and Fume Hoods
It's important to make sure that equipment that hasn't been used in several months is safe, clean, and working properly. A site walk will assure you that there won't be any surprises when students begin using the university labs and equipment. Your eyewash and shower stations, especially, should be carefully inspected. These site walks and inspections will allow you to identify and schedule out routine maintenance that is needed in your labs prior to the start of the year.
The start of a new school year is upon us (I know, we can't believe it either!). Do you have everything in place to ensure the safety of students and faculty? What grade would you give your EH&S program as it stands now? For a more comprehensive discussion on what you need to do to make sure your program passes the test this fall, join me later this month for a free webinar, Back to School: Is Your EH&S Program Ready for the New School Year? Click the button below to register!